The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Bowen’s historical novel, The Tuscan Child, is a gratifying read. 

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Joanna and her father, Sir Hugo, couldn’t be more different. After his death, Joanna is startled to find a love letter to a woman in Italy. 

Intrigued, Joanna goes to San Salvatore in Italy, to discover more about her father’s life. She knew he had crashed while serving in World War II but she had not known the exact location, San Salvatore, a hill town in Tuscany.

Though there are no hotels in San Salvatore, Joanna finds a comfortable place to stay. She feels at home with Paola’s family until a strange event occurs. Someone has drowned one of the local men in the well near Joanna’s rented room.

Police think Joanna, a foreigner, is suspicious, even though she insists she has nothing to do with the man’s murder.

Renzo, the son of a rich landowner in San Salvatore, has a connection to her father and the woman he names in the letter, Sofia Bartoli. Is he the “beautiful boy” her father mentions in the same letter?

The novel takes many twists and turns and Joanna learns what’s true and what’s false. 

At the Corpus Christi festival she beings to see Renzo in a new light.  Though she does not trust Renzo, something is drawing her and him together.

This is a charming World War II story with light intrigue and light romance.


The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp.

Jude hasn’t practiced magic in six years, He is unnerved, however, when, during a poker game with other magical beings, his powers are stolen from him.

Jude, a demi-god known for his talent for finding lost things, has been struggling with his powers after Hurricane Katrina. 

Since the storm his “gift” has been out of control. He tells his Regal how the storm affected his abilities:

“I don’t know if it had to do with how much got lost, or if it was me, or what. But I felt everything…I couldn’t stand being around people without a way to shut it out.”

Thus, after the storm, Jude doesn’t practice magic for six years.

One night, however, during a poker game with other magical beings, things begin to radically change.

At the poker game, something valuable is taken from him that makes Jude reconsider his ban on magic.

His ex-boss, Mourning, gives him an assignment–to find out who murdered the fortune god–but Jude is loath to comply.  

He needs to use everything in his magical bag of tricks to keep up with the machinations of the voodoo gods, vampires, and zombies that threaten him. 

This is a fast-paced supernatural thriller with a wonderful literary creation, Jude Dubisson, at helm. 

National Small Business Week–May 5-May 11, 2019


This year National Small Business Week is May 5 through May 11. For public libraries, it’s the perfect time to promote small business books or small business resources e.g. databases.

National Small Business Week

Public libraries are a hidden resource when it comes to small business. Most small business owners do not realize what treasures they can find at their local library.

Here are some titles that can help small business owners find winning solutions:

Artun, Omer. Predictive Marketing.

Aspan, Maria. Startup Money Made Easy.

Brown, Brene. Dare to Lead.

Hamm, Jon. Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills (eAudiobook)

Morten, Hansen. Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less.

Nelson, Stephen. Quickbooks 2019.

Paul, Jarvis. Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Biggest Thing.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A beautiful allegorical story about a young person’s journey from grief to acceptance. Connor has two nightmares that bother him. One comes in the shape of walking yew tree that something visits at 12:07AM. The other monster that is more real and frightening he cannot even describe. He calls it his “nightmare.”

Connor has many troubles: his mother his dying, his father has a new family and has moved to America, his Grandmother who wants to adopt him is obtuse and annoying.

Conor would give anything for his mother to live, even befriend a yew-tree monster who claims he can cure every human ailment.

What’s best about this novel is how psychologically astute the writing is. Conor is isolated and so he feels “invisible.” He asks the yew tree how he helped another invisible being but ends up getting into a physical fight with a boy that has bullied him.

The monster tells stories to help the boy understand psychological truths:

There was once an invisible man, the monster continued, though Conor kept his eyes firmly on Harry, who had grown tried of being unseen…It was not that he was actually invisible, the monster said, following Conor….It was that people had become used to not seeing him.”

Conor learns, however, that there are “harder things being invisible.” At his worst, Conor learns, “They all saw him now. But he was further away than ever.”

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Panned by critics, this is actually a wonderful, inspiring film. A steampunk version, the foe uses automatons created by a giant engine.

Several moments stand out in this film. The moment Clara realizes the sugar plum fairy is not as sugary sweet as she appears. The moment Clara realizes the only one who can save the four realms is herself. She happens to be staring at a mirror and her mother’s words comes back to her.

The film is a feminist victory. The young girl’s bravery and intelligence save the kingdom which is rarely seen in most films.

Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren give great performances here.

Anything is Possible

“Anything is Possible,” is the last line of the last story in this remarkable collection. The collection is as much as it about miracles as it is about family secrets and hidden shame.

Anything is Possible

Abel of the short story “Gift,” feels shame that he and his sister Dottie used to eat out of dumpsters as children. Though he has worked hard and grown rich, Abel has never gotten over the sorrow and loneliness of his childhood.

When he watches “A Christmas Carol” with his family, though, a strange thing happens. When his granddaughter forgets her toy at the theater, it gives him the opportunity to make a friend for the first time in his life.

Lucy Barton who was featured in Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton makes an appearance here as well in the short story “Sister.” Lucy has a panic disorder that stems from her childhood. None of the Amgash residents, including Vicky, her sister, know about this.

The residents view Lucy as one of the few who left Amgash unscathed. They talk about Lucy in amazed tones for she is the only one who seems to have triumphed over her impoverished childhood.

Tommy’s reaction is typical:

“Lucy, Lucy, Lucy B. Where did you go to, how did you flee?

One of the pretty Nicely girls, Patty, is particularly drawn to Lucy’s story.

A Saint a Day

St. David’s spoons


Today (March 1st) is St. David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales. St. David is the smallest city in Britain.

Its a beautiful city with a strong artistic and “farm to fork” community, cathedral, and interesting history.

Though as with all saints there are many legends, the real St. David established a religious community in what is now the city of St. David.

Visit the Cathedral, the St. David’s Bishop’s Palace and watch the St. David’s parade in Pembrokshire.